Interview with Miri Badger


Miri Badger** is a representational painter living and working in Meanjin/Brisbane. Her chosen subject matter stems from an investigation into uncanny visual interactions. Using assertively flat brushstrokes to render form and a stylised colour palate, these interactions are depicted through both figurative and non-figurative oil paintings. The amalgamation of seemingly mismatched objects and shadows contributes to an unusual mixture of pathos and eerie amusement in her work. Myf spoke to Miri following the opening of her exhibition, ‘Faces’, with pps/FORA in West End.

Myf: The last time I spoke to you, probably, was like a year ago in March as we were hanging your solo show, Divine Clutter. It was the week before we were about to go into this insane lockdown. How is ‘Faces’ different to ‘Divine Clutter’?**

Miri: It’s a very different body of work. So many things have changed since then, and I think I’ve been really lucky to have a year where I could really focus on developing my practice. Not being able to have many shows during the last year has meant I’ve had a lot of commission work which has honed in on my ability to be versatile and really hone in on my painting as a skill, and the technique behind the painting.

Approaching Faces, I looked back on the year that we had and the work that I’d made and was able to draw from a wide array of work, and go, ‘What do I want my thing to be?’ which is a really lucky place to be as an artist. Usually, you’re making, making, making with a theme in mind but it was really nice to be able to look back and choose a selection of portraits.

[‘Divine Clutter’] was more looking at the way we own objects and the way we create and attach meaning to physical objects in our lives. I represented that through a lot of still lives. This work is more my experimentation into how to represent faces and human form - really playful, really experimental. Some ceramic pieces, even, which is a first!

Myf: It’s so nice to see you working with human faces and human form. I do feel like there is quite a similar energy to your previous body of work. I’m really amazed by how you can capture the uncanny human condition in quite simple everyday objects and awkward moments of being a human. Is that something you’d like to continue?**

Miri: Definitely. That’s what I’m focussed on trying to draw out. I do flow back and forth between really wanting to represent human form and faces and people, and trying to capture that. That’s something I did during my undergraduate degree [in Sydney]… I did a lot of portraiture and I think it was something I was super interested in and something that was super hard. Every so often, once a year I go, ‘No more painting people!’ and I’m off it for a year, and then I come back round: I want to paint faces again! There’s a similar style throughout my work of often highly saturated, stylised painted form but always drawing from life and real representation.

Myf: Your paintings in Divine Clutter also feel like self-portraits in a sort of way - a portrait through belongings.**

Miri: That’s so true! And so many of them were. In not too much of a hoarder way (not that that’s bad!) I’m quite attached to my things. I see that as a certain representation of you and it doesn’t have to be frivolous. It doesn’t have to be considered negative to attach meaning to objects. It is in a way a self-portrait. Looking at a selection of things on someone’s bedside table - what they’re reading, what they’re looking at - does say something about who they are, which I find really interesting.

Myf: It’s so beautiful to see that energy flow from one body of work, which from the outside, would look quite different to what you’re doing now. And it’s so exciting to see you working with ceramics as well - is that something you want to continue?**

Miri: Yes! Oh my god, it’s so addictive. I started a course in West End at Clay School last year, as I’m sure many people started playing with clay during lockdown. I’m a bit addicted and I want to make more painted, glazed works with ceramics.

Myf: Do you have a work you’re most proud of in this collection?**

Miri: There’s a work that’s a very strange sort of self-portrait of my cheeks being smushed and pinched, it’s hard to describe in words! It’s very painterly. I think that’s the work I like the best.

View Miri’s works here.